After Appomattox

After Appomattox

Military Occupation and the Ends of War

Book - 2015
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"The Civil War did not end at Appomattox Court House. Nor did it end at the surrenders that followed in North Carolina, Texas, and Indian Country. The Civil War dragged on for at least five years after Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865. In the first large-scale examination of the post-Civil War occupation, this book offers a rethinking of Reconstruction, the end of the Civil War, and the United States' history of occupation. The Civil War could not end, because slavery had not yet ended. Freedpeople held in bondage throughout the South taught soldiers that it would take military force to crush the institution of slavery. To create reliable rights on the ground and to stave off planters' efforts to restore their power, the United States launched an expansive, aggressive, little-understood occupation of the rebel states, granting the Army power to overturn laws, appoint new officials, conduct military trials, and ignore writs of habeas corpus. Yet relying on occupation posed dilemmas for the United States. Isolated in small outposts, the Army could regulate only what it could see. In large no-man's lands, a series of insurgencies and partisan conflicts arose; much of the South fell into near-anarchy. Maintaining an occupation created political problems as well, as northern voters urged Congress to cut spending and send troops home. This book describes a Civil War that could not quite end, a peace that could not quite be achieved, and a resolution that continues to shape American life"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press, 2015.
ISBN: 9780674743984
Branch Call Number: 973.7 DOWNS
Characteristics: ix, 342 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm


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Sep 02, 2018

This is an exceptionally insightful and detailed account of reconstruction. The war may have ended but the South was by no means ready to accept slave enfranchisement or racial equality. White supremacists ravaged a rural South that was largely unoccupied by federal troops and legislature allowed discrimination and blatant racism against blacks. A large amount of the book is devouted to the political and legal aspects of reconstruction. Indeed the union executed what was an overt "military occupation" (Down's main thesis) to combat the endless issues it faced in bringing the south back into the union. The Reconstruction era is a dark and disturbing part of our country's history but it is certainly a part that ought to be studied and understood. I recommend this book to anyone interested in the civil war, law, or civil rights.

" To see what Reconstruction did and did not do, we must abandon the presumption of perfect government efficacy---the idea that the state can accomplish what it wants if only its leaders want it badly enough. Instead we must treat government as an actor among other actors, one contested and sometimes defeated by powerful social forces. Reconstruction might have ended in disappointment even if it were manned by avenging angels. The tragedy of Reconstruction was not its leaders' imperfections, but the enormity of the obstacles they faced." " Clean hands may simply preserve an unjust world."

Nov 11, 2015

An thoroughly insightful and readable study of what was at stake after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox and the assassination of President Lincoln, when Republicans from the North had to decide how to bring the South back into the fold without the return of slavery and protecting (and failing to protect) a newly freed black population. Lots of new research went into this, which the author admits turned the premise of this book from the failures of Reconstruction to its achievements, as slight as they sometimes seem 150 years later. And the author shows how we still struggle with the use of war powers to transform our future and work toward liberty and peace.


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